Six Ways to Blog Consistently

If you’re a blogger like me, figuring out how you can post consistently is a big issue. It’s the “blank piece of paper” problem-what are you going to put on your blog, and how are you going to get it all organized?

For me, enlightenment hit at my job when I started working on their blog on a regular basis. For most company bloggers, your blog is a multi-purpose tool. It’s where you share information about your company, but it’s also where you develop content to boost your website’s SEO score and improve your search rankings. It’s where you get to share little “slices of life” of your company’s products and services, providing a more human face to a corporate product.

For the independent blogger, the small business blogger, and the blogger who uses their blog to share their content, this is even more important. Your content is your lifeline to potential customers and partners that might need your services. Keeping their attention-without overwhelming them-is very important. And, if you’re a writer like me, you can’t spend a lot of time staring at your WordPress blog interface, glaring at it and hoping that something will appear on the screen.

This is where the dreaded “p” word shows up-planning. Writers claim to hate planning, because it turns writing into a job. What I’ve found-and wished that I had known sooner-was that planning helps to make writing easier because that “staring at the blank white screen” is not the start of your writing process, but the middle.

In this post, I’m going to list the six things that will make blogging easier for you and will help you to both blog more and blog consistently.

Set Up a Schedule

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? When I was talking with customers, that was their biggest concern when talking about blog content-when am I going to do this? When I was able to drill down a bit, they had so much going on with their business that they feared that they couldn’t create content. They didn’t have the time to spend at their computer, creating a post to meet a deadline and then posting it.

When I sat down with a concerned customer, the first thing we worked on was a schedule. There are so many ways and suggestions on how to set up your schedule, but my first and foremost concern was consistency. That the customer would, on a regular basis, have something up that people would be able to know and anticipate. That they could trust would be there, waiting for them, like the coffee shop on their commute to work.

A schedule also takes pressure off of the creator, because they know when things will be required, and they can place warnings and notes to make sure that they’re on track.

Many of our customers started to get a little confused, then I would explain the next step to them.

Collect Your Ideas (Even the Bad Ones)

Most blogging software will let you set a time for your posts to drop. In WordPress, this the “publish” function, and you can set up anything number of pre-prepared posts and the system will automatically drop them for you. This helps to relieve one of the biggest fears-that they have to be there to create and publish the content on time.

But, they would ask, now, I need to write this content up! And there is another tool that can help, and that’s brainstorming ahead of time. Which is another way of saying “collecting all of your ideas,” so you have them all in a single place to work with.

Depending on the customer, we’d either set up a folder in their Google Drive or on a flash drive and call it Blog Posts or something similar. We’d open up that folder and create a document that just says Blog Post Ideas. (Some of our customers would want something like the year or specific kinds of ideas there. Creating documents is easy, there’s no reason why you can’t do that.)

And there is where you collect all of your blog ideas. It doesn’t matter at this stage if they are “good” or “bad” ideas, they’re just ideas. Don’t try and flesh them out-just create headlines and blog topic titles.

Your goal is to create a running “bank” of ideas, and some of these ideas are good, some of them are bad. Some of them might be time-sensitive, such as a new product release or a specific sale. Some of them are “evergreen”-you can talk about how to make hot crossed buns or screwdrivers any time you want. Regardless, these all go into the Blog Post Ideas document, and you can work on this document at your schedule.

Now that you have some ideas, the next part is-

Organize Your Post

Once you have some ideas that you’re going to use, take that idea and expand it a little bit. What I do is I’ll set up a bulleted list under that idea and I’ll start putting in headlines or headings under that idea.

For example, this post started out like this on my Blog Post Ideas document, with the following headings-

  • Six Ways to Blog Consistently
    • Set Up a Schedule
    • Collect Your Ideas (Even the Bad Ones)
    • Organize Your Post
    • Do Your Research
    • Write, Write, Write!
    • Keep Track of What You’re Doing

These headings help to divide up your writing work and acts as a brainstorming tool. Rather than a single massive white sheet of paper that you have to fill with text, you have six to eight smaller items that you can finish in any order you want. And you can even brainstorm further with this document, taking it down any number of levels. When I was writing this post, I went down a second level on many of these headings, and I got this-

  • Six Ways to Blog Consistently
    • Set Up a Schedule
      • Talk about customer worries
      • Discuss scheduling
    • Collect Your Ideas (Even the Bad Ones)
      • Brainstorming with another name
      • Keeping it all in one place so you don’t lose track of it
    • Organize Your Post
      • Explain outlining (headlines)
    • Do Your Research
      • Google Searches
      • Keep track of links
    • Write, Write, Write!
      • All at once vs. pass method
    • Keep Track of What You’re Doing
      • Log your work
      • Avoid duplication
      • Make sure to note where and when you posted your blog post

You have now created an outline for your blog post, and the second level of headings helps to keep your organized. Having this second level of headings allows you to cover points for each topic that you need. And, most importantly, what you’re going to research.

Do Your Research

Having a subject to write a post on means that you can do research on the subject. Using the topics and headings, I start looking for information on Google, and I post the links under the headings. This is important for a number of reasons-for some subjects somebody might have worked out most of the solutions you need. Trying out different ways of asking questions can sometimes inspire your thoughts to go in new directions. And some of this information is even helpful in ways you didn’t even know before you found it.

Those second level of headings you’ve just created for your outline? Those are your first set of keywords when you’re doing your research, the first things you type into Google to find things out.

When you find something useful, copy the URL and save it to your blog post idea folder. Personally, I put the URLs in a third level of headings on my outline, under the second level of headings. This helps to keep the URLs organized and puts them all in one place for the next step in the process.

Write, Write, Write!

Everything we have done before has been the prep work for this step. It’s like building a house or baking a cake-it looks intimidating when you start because your workspace or kitchen or foundation is blank, unformed. But we’ve assembled the tools and the parts to start building your creation and the next part is actually writing the post. And now that we have everything in place, it’s surprisingly easy.

In your Blog Post folder, create a new document. When you choose the file name or title, I like to choose what the blog post is going to be. This one, for example, is titled Six Ways to Blog Consistently, and that’s what I have as the title of this document.

Inside the document, I’ll use the Headings tool to create a first layer of headings, which matches the outline that I’ve created. Each of these headings is a topic I want to talk about and gives me a starting point for my writing.

How I write is what I call a “pass” technique. It’s like painting-I figure out where I want the paint or words to go, and every time I go past, I add a little more detail. A few more words, some verbs and nouns, a couple of adjectives….it all builds up, layer by layer. Each pass I make through the document, the blog post grows until it’s done. For some people, this works, and there is no one perfect technique. Find what works for you, as long as it gets done.

Once you’ve finished, you can go back and check on what you’ve written and do any editing. Don’t forget to include any relevant URLs in your post, because you want people to find your reference material and you want to drive your SEO scores up.

Once you’re ready to post, select the entire document, copy it, and paste it into your blog posting location. You might have to do some fine-tuning to make sure everything is the way you want it (I had to spend about five minutes playing around with list options). And then, you set the publication date for when you want it and hit the Publish button.

There’s one step left, and that’s an easy one.

Keep Track of What You’re Doing

Nothing is worse than having spent several hours on a blog post and discovering that not only have you written the same blog post before, but the earlier one is better than what you’ve been working on. So, to avoid duplicated posts and effort, you need to keep track of what you’re doing and what you’ve done in your blog.

This is where that Blog Post Ideas document is important. When you’ve finished with the blog post and everything is done, you should indicate that you’re done and have a direct link to the blog post itself.

On my version of the Blog Post Ideas document, this is what my post today looks like-

  • Six Ways To Blog Consistently (11/29)
    • Set Up A Schedule
      • Talk about customer worries
      • Discuss scheduling
    • Collect Your Ideas (Even the Bad Ones)
      • Brainstorming with another name
      • Keeping it all in one place so you don’t lose track of it
    • Organize Your Post
      • Explain outlining (headlines)
    • Do Your Research
      • Google Searches
      • Keep track of links
    • Write, Write, Write!
      • All at once vs. pass method
    • Keep Track Of What You’re Doing
      • Log your work
      • Avoid duplication
      • Make sure to note where and when you posted your blog post

First of all, I used the strikeout format tool, to “cross off” all of the items in the assignment. For me, it’s a visual feeling that makes me feel very good-I know that the writing is done and it’s been posted. Right against the title of the document is the day that the blog post went live, so I know now when I posted it. I also included a link to the post, so if I need to get back to it quickly (change old URLs that might be broken, revise content if necessary, etc, etc, etc).

When I go back to my Blog Post Ideas document, I’ll make sure to take a look at anything that I have crossed out, just to be on the safe side of not doing a second post again. But, if there’s a reason why another post has to be written (a change in laws, technology, or something similar), I know where the first one is, so I can reference the original post as needed.

Conclusion

Regular blog postings are an important part of creating content for your website and marketing projects. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling books or buttons, the ability to create and maintain a steady blog schedule is vital. And like many things, prior planning does help a lot.

A little bit of planning can help ensure that you make the most of every moment-and even create long, complicated blog posts like this one.

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